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THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD
(1951, Nyby)

Released in 1951, The Thing from Another World follows a US Air Force crew sent to investigate an unusual aircraft crashing at the North Pole, and they end up finding an advanced but dangerous alien that feeds on other creature's blood. It's up to Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) and his men to stop it.

This is one of those instances where it's good to know the context in which the film is released. Right at the peak of the Cold War, the presence of "the Thing" is meant to be seen as a metaphor of the threat of Communism sneaking up on us. Not sure if that was present in the novella, but it's very much in the film's DNA. From throwaway lines about the Russians being "all over the pole like flies" to the "ra-rah" closing warning to "keep watching the skies".

Grade:
I love that movie. IMO it's one of the very best '50s sci-fi/horror movies. I saw it with a pal when it came out in '51, and I've watched several times since.

There is something about the genuineness and wonder of films like this and Them! as the scientists try to root out the causes or nature of the monsters.

It wasn't until years later that I realized the monster was James Arness.

I like it better than the remake.



Dont Worry Darling (2022)


I didn't have high hopes for this given that the trailer seemed to convey the strangeness and creepiness a bit too well, but this is worth a watch. It isn't as cunning as it wants to be, however Florence Pugh continues to be a miraculous force on the screen. Both Styles and Pine and Wilde were just okay for me otherwise.



LA CONCEJALA ANTROPÓFAGA
(2009, Almodóvar)



"We have to recognize desire as the main driving force of a better society – when you desire someone you don’t usually wish them harm – unless they reject you that is"

That is one of the many mantras that the lead character of this short rambles on. Desire is key, which is probably why in 7 minutes runtime, she gives in to numerous bites of sweets and multiple snorts of cocaine, all while she talks and talks about sex and want, and how to wallow in it, and in God knows what else.

That is the setup of La concejala antropófaga (or The Cannibalistic Councillor), a short from Pedro Almodóvar. Conceived during the filming of Broken Embraces, the short follows Chon (Carmen Machi), a councillor that enjoys giving in to her, umm, desires and talking about them.

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot
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10 Foreign Language movies to go
Watched 3 Anthony Quinn movies last night, and it turned out to be a more interesting and entertaining night than I suspected it would be. The films were wildly different from each other in tone :


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The Secret of Santa Vittoria - (1969)

It's 1943, and the wine-making Italian town of Santa Vittoria is celebrating the ousting of Benito Mussolini. The town's fascist leaders have to think fast lest they be given the harshest treatment, so they decide to hand power to the town's drunken fool - Bombolini (Anthony Quinn), who puts together a council of his own. When he gets word that the Germans are on their way to occupy the town, he becomes determined to hide the town's massive stockpile of wine from them - some 1,370,000 bottles. But how do you hide over a million bottles of wine? And if you find a place, how do you transport them in just a matter of days? Bombolini and the town find a way, but when the Germans arrive they soon come to suspect they're being played for fools - leading to a battle of will and wits between Bombolini and Captain Von Prum (Hardy Krüger). This was kind of a delightful movie, and though the loud and boisterous Bombolini can grate at times, overall he's a loveable scamp who Anthony Quinn injects much fun and comedy into. The film's second lead - Krüger - doesn't appear until 71 minutes into the film! At 139 minutes, I felt this film's length, but I had left it till last. There's something joyous, and very life-affirming about The Secret of Santa Vittoria - it wasn't a big hit at the box office, but it won 2 Oscars (Score and Editing) and is as charming as they come. Directed by Stanley Kramer.

7.5/10


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The Visit - (1964)

What a dark and unusual film this was. Set in a village in some Eastern European country - a village that has been hit with the worst of hard times. No money, no work - just poverty, destitution and little hope. Visiting this town is one of it's former residents, Karla Zachanassian (Ingrid Bergman), who after leaving married a wealthy man and inherited his money, becoming one of the richest people in the world (she own's 5% of the entire world's wealth!) The town is desperate for help, and she agrees to help under one condition - the execution of town councilman Serge Miller (Anthony Quinn) - a former lover of hers. It seems that Miller got her pregnant, and then denied the child was his in court, bringing in two false witnesses - which meant Karla lost the child (who later died) and ended up falling into a desperate life of prostitution before meeting her wealthy husband. At first the town rejects her proposal as outrageous - but after reflection, and a taste of the good life, decides that perhaps bringing back capital punishment wouldn't hurt. Who knows - perhaps Miller might die in a cougar hunting accident before they even need to. If The Secret of Santa Vittoria is feelgood, then this is feelbad - but a very interesting meditation on justice, the power wealth brings, revenge, a male-dominated world, the fickleness of friendship and the hold our tragic experiences have on us. Very interesting and different.

7/10


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The River's Edge - (1957)

This was a little more trashy and pulpy - just your average studio production about farmhand Ben Cameron (Anthony Quinn), who married Meg (Debra Paget) to help her get out of her 10 year prison sentence early (she's done something unspecified.) Unfortunately, life on a farm doesn't go well with Meg, and when her former partner, Nardo Denning (Ray Milland) shows up she leaves with him. Denning has a pretty hot suitcase with one million dollars in it, and it isn't long before he's forced to kill a cop - wrecking his car in the process. Meg and Denning have to call on Ben for help to get across the border into Mexico - and Ben will help them, for a price. Their adventure in the wilds has many twists and turns. This wasn't bad - everyone puts their all into it, and the story grips you like only pulp can - unabashedly throwing much melodrama and action into the mix. With looks and money, it seems that Denning has it all over Ben, but Ben's moral compass, decency and honour shine through as attractive as handsome looks.

6/10


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Maria's Lovers - (1984)

No Anthony Quinn here, but we do get Keith Carradine, Robert Mitchum, Nastassja Kinski, John Savage, Bud Cort and John Goodman - which isn't a bad cast. Ivan Bibic (Savage) comes home from the Second World War to find he can't make love to his wife Maria (Kinski) - the trauma from surviving a Japanese POW camp too fresh in his mind. The pressure this puts everyone under only makes the situation that much worse, especially when a Don Juan sexual master, Clarence Butts (Carradine) arrives in town with eyes for Ivan's wife. I enjoyed watching all these actors strut their stuff, but the story wasn't evenly paced and could have been written a little better.

5.5/10
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THE HUMAN VOICE
(2020, Almodóvar)



"I'm a waste. I'm a ruin of what I once was."

The Human Voice follows Swinton's unnamed character as she walks around a stage/apartment, apparently after being left by her lover. After some cathartic moments of frustration and anger, she receives a call from the man, who we never see or listen, and she proceeds to talk with him for the rest of the short going through a series of emotional ups and downs.

Like La concejala antropófaga, this is another opportunity that Almodóvar gives to an actress, Swinton in this case, to run wild with a monologue that seems to be tailored for her. This one is actually based on a play, but Swinton totally owns the role and makes the most out of every sentence and inflection. She is spectacular in it.

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot




Barbie: Fairytopia (Walter P. Martishius, 2005)

Okay this is another banger. We're back to the straight-ahead adventure style ala Nutcracker and it works again here with the biggest selling point being the production design. Elina travels through all these different areas of Fairytopia and just about everywhere she goes has some cool design choices whether its a misty forest of withering tulips or the villains cactus stronghold or even just this cool rock some mermaids are hanging out at. The themes of what makes you different being a strength and overcoming your insecurities hit well and the score is also super good and though the romance have been a strong element of the better films thus far it was a nice change of pace for the MCs prize to be something other than a man for once. There's still a romantic interest in the film but they only briefly cross paths here (there are Fairytopia sequels so I assume we'll get there eventually). This one's just super solid all the way through though they do take some shortcuts in the story as this thing is only 70 minutes with credits but its nothing serious at all. Oh and spoilers the villain gets hit with a gay laser beam and f*cking explodes . Barbie killing it again.



Victim of The Night
THE HUMAN VOICE
(2020, Almodóvar)





The Human Voice follows Swinton's unnamed character as she walks around a stage/apartment, apparently after being left by her lover. After some cathartic moments of frustration and anger, she receives a call from the man, who we never see or listen, and she proceeds to talk with him for the rest of the short going through a series of emotional ups and downs.

Like La concejala antropófaga, this is another opportunity that Almodóvar gives to an actress, Swinton in this case, to run wild with a monologue that seems to be tailored for her. This one is actually based on a play, but Swinton totally owns the role and makes the most out of every sentence and inflection. She is spectacular in it.

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot
Oh shit, a Tilda Swinton movie I didn't know about. Well, I'll just put that in my post-Halloween queue. I'll watch that woman in anything. Probably my favorite living actor at this point.



Oh shit, a Tilda Swinton movie I didn't know about. Well, I'll just put that in my post-Halloween queue. I'll watch that woman in anything. Probably my favorite living actor at this point.
It's a 30 minute short, so it shouldn't be much of a hassle either way.



While I thought it was a bit uneven, that sequence with Collette and Ribisi is something else.
LOL, ya think? Scariest part is I know she stayed with him.
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Bad Neighbours (2014)

I prefer Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Maybe because I saw it first or maybe I feel Sorority Rising had more twists and was funnier for me. This one has more jokes but feels more repetitive for me.

Blonde (2022)

I watched half an hour of Blonde and switched it off. Then, reading discourse on Movie Forums and Yoda provided Kermode's review of the movie where he says Blonde is actually a horror film made me want to see the full movie with different mind set and expectations. I quite enjoyed it. I would compare it with my favorite movies Mulholland Drive, Spring Breakers as well as films like Under The Skin and Green Room. As Minio said Blond is sort of stream of consciousness movie. You sort of have to drop your expectations of narrative to really appreciate it.

God's Country (2022)

Nothing burger,- thriller with no thrills. Attempted trills were a bit stupid. The protagonist is the villain of the story in my eyes, even though she's supposed to be righteous I guess.




Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus (Greg Richardson, 2005)

The run of hits continues with what is probably the most technically well written and put together film yet. This one is another adventure film and this is the only film in the series so far that was actually able to make me suspend my disbelief and feel like something bad could actually happen and it just generally feels more "substantial" I suppose. It maybe doesn't have quite as much charm as the other high end entries in the series as a result but Barbie is inherently charming enough thanks to Kelly Sheridan's voice, which I've failed to realize what a factor that is to my enjoyment of these films up to now. I don't know if she's technically giving a good performance in any of these but there's something so comfy about her voice. If at any point someone else is voicing Barbie in these films I'm going to cry full stop. In this one the character Barbie plays (Princess Annika) is a bit more of a girlboss which was cool and the villain sucks (in a good way). Like you actually want him to get his comeuppance and whatnot. Good side characters and romantic interest as well who all have satisfying enough arcs of their own. So yeah, this one mostly coasts off presenting you this technically sound script but there's some nice moments from the filmmaking side as well, most notably any of the ice skating scenes, ESPECIALLY the ice dance at the end that was so so beautiful. The only weird thing is one of the characters is a polar bear cub and they gave it bedroom eyes for some reason. Not okay with that but overall this is one is pretty great.



F*CK FOR FOREST (2013) 3/5 contains hippy sex and nudity.

This is a documentary about a charity called F*ck for Forest. The are a bunch of eco-warrior hippies who have a an erotic film and still photography website that raises money for indigenous people to save their land from deforestation. The film follows Danny, a charming, young man with a Peter Pan mien as he hooks up with F*ck for Forest and takes to the streets of Berlin dancing and singing and asking people if they want to be filmed having sex to save the forests. The group goes to the Amazon to meet with several tribes of indigenous people in order to supply them with money so they can buy their land. But the negotiations do not go so well as the tribal peoples are suspicious of white people I know! Go figure!. I found this story fascinating and the two people who started it in 2004 are still at it.So If you want to see hippies having sex or donate to a project that is working for reforestation check out their website.



THE 9TH GUEST
(1934, Neill)



"You are about to meet my guest of honour: the ninth guest... his name is Death."

The 9th Guest follows a group of eight guests invited at a mysterious party by an unknown host. As they settle in, they are informed that they are part of a deadly game which will result in the death of each of them. Is the ninth guest "death" itself? or is "death" within one of them?

With a simple premise and a brief runtime of 65 minutes, The 9th Guest is a breezy and entertaining "whodunit" that manages to keep you guessing until the end. Most of the characters are colorful and well-delineated, even if some of their introductions feel a bit scattered. Edward Ellis and Hardie Albright are probably the top scene stealers of the bunch.

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot



10 Foreign Language movies to go

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Holiday - (1938)

Released the same year as Bringing Up Baby, this comedy trampled all over my expectations by being far more serious than I ever would have expected - despite Cary Grant being teamed up with Katharine Hepburn again. I haven't seen many George Cukor films (My Fair Lady and the 1954 version of A Star is Born are the only ones i think.) I'm afraid I kept on judging Holiday directly against Baby, without knowing that this was a stage adaptation - and the tagline on it's poster, "Heart-warming drama. Smiles, and the tears behind them," really indicates that this comedy had a very serious dramatic bent to it. Judged like that, it's a really good film, with Grant always about to be really funny, but always having to hold back in the face of so many dramatic moments. He's about to marry into a wealthy money-obsessed family, and the way this contradicts everything he's about slowly wears him down - but the sister of the woman he's going to marry, Linda (Hepburn) has very much the same spirit as he does. She just can't act on it, because that would be betraying her beloved sister. A really enjoyable film that didn't deliver many laughs, but was playful enough to give off a fun vibe.

7.5/10


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A Star is Born - (1976)

Well, this is another version of A Star is Born - the only one I haven't seen now is the 1937 version, with the 1954 version the best on in my opinion. This wasn't bad - the music is okay and Kristofferson imbues his faded, burned out musical icon with believable drunkenness and 'who-cares-anymore' weariness. I've never been a huge Barbara Streisand fan (you'll never catch me watching The Prince of Tides again) and I wish she'd just rock out more, instead of always veering off into soft melody mode. My favourite part? When Kristofferson decides to borrow a fan's motorcycle, drive it up on stage for a few laps, and then promptly drive it off the stage injuring himself and who knows how many others.

6/10


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The Reader - (2008)

I've always enjoyed The Reader a lot. Kate Winslet did well with Hanna Schmitz and steals most of our attention with her performance, being the central focal point even though the story is told from the point of view of Michael Berg (David Kross and Ralph Fiennes). Despite whatever Schmitz did, I always have so much sympathy for her, and that's thanks to what Winslet imbues her with - a kind of sad, pathetic emptiness, and a sense that life has passed her by because of her inability to read and the fact that she really was in the wrong place at the wrong time and had to cooperate a horrifying regime. A really sad film.

8/10





D.O.A. - Finally watched this 1949 murder mystery and it's an odd one. Haven't watched any of the remakes outside of Crank. But that was so far afield of this, the original, that it hardly counts as one. The meat of the story happens in flashback because as the movie opens Frank Bigelow (Edmond O'Brien) walks into Los Angeles police headquarters and asks to see the man in charge. "I'd like to report a murder", he tells the chief of detectives and when asked who was murdered Bigelow waits the requisite beat and answers, "I was."

Bigelow is an accountant and notary public plying his trade in the small California town of Banning. He's itching to get away from his responsibilities which apparently include his secretary and longtime girlfriend Paula Gibson (Pamela Britton). He's arranged a "getaway" for himself in San Francisco where he meets up with some conventioneers and goes bar hopping with them. While there a mysterious stranger switches drink with him and when he wakes up the next morning he is clearly feeling off. After visiting a doctor they drop the bombshell that he's ingested a radioactive toxin and has only a few days to live. He spends the rest of the movie and his remaining time on earth attempting to solve the mystery of his own murder.

As for the odd part, there are weird little touches like an awkward slide whistle sound effect whenever O'Brien sees an attractive female at the hotel he's staying at. Then there's the protracted scene at the jazz club where he first gets slipped the deadly concoction. The movie leans heavily for some reason into the effect the uptempo "negro music" has on the all white patrons, showing some of them in an almost fugue state and on the precipice of losing control. I still don't understand the point of it unless it was some sort of half-assed cautionary tale about the evils of "jungle music".

And at times there was enough scenery chewing going on with various characters for it to qualify as high camp. Neville Brand plays Chester, a psychopathic hired goon who talks about himself in the third person. Needless to say, Chester is starring in his own movie. Then there's Beverly Garland as Miss Foster, a secretary who knows much more than she's letting on. And Britton as Paula, Frank's dutiful girl Friday and longtime love interest has her moments as well. There's a scene in which the two declare their undying love for each other that goes on a little too long and tilts into overkill. It ends with Britton's character staring into the camera as if to make sure the "subtlety" wasn't lost on the audience.

These might sound like complaints but they're trifling because the film rises and falls on the strength of it's script which is admittedly a bit confusing at times. But I thought that the mystery part and Bigelow's investigation of his own murder are handled well enough. But what really sells the movie is O'Brien's all-in and energetic performance. He runs and falls and picks himself up and then runs some more. He looks like he's having fun doing it too. The sometimes frenetic pace and outsized performances end up working in it's favor and ultimately help sell the story.

80/100



This was one of the few musicals I actually enjoyed. I think I have a weakness for hillbilly themed songfests since The Unsinkable Molly Brown is another one of my favorites.